Heat takes toll on animals without protection

ACS Vet: Animals can get heat-related injuries, even sunburns


SAN ANTONIO – Despite the lesions that are now healing on his back, a scraggly young poodle brought into Animal Care Services is considered luckier than most strays without water, shade or a place to cool off.  

Dr. Marilyn Gotbeter, an ACS veterinarian, said the poodle is now being treated for what appeared to be burns.

"They will seek shelter under cars for shade. Certainly it can be motor oil burns," she said.

Gotbeter said it can happen during the summer or during the winter, when they're trying to find warmth.

She said the same goes for sunburns, since fur offers little protection against the sun.

"Anybody can get burned, even on your scalp. You have hair. You'll get sunburned as well," Gotbeter said.

As proof, an ACS technician brought in another little dog with a cone around its head to keep it from scratching the sunburned skin on its back.

"You could just see that it was peeling off as if it was like a normal sunburn," Gotbeter said.

She said they often see cases like these year-round, but with proper treatment, "They heal just fine."

The ACS vet said she urges pet owners to seek professional help if they see suspicious lesions or signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Gotbeter said she has not seen a case where a topical flea treatment has caused similar lesions.

"Some studies show dogs having them, but with no history of topical preventatives," Gotbeter said. "It may not be a complete correlation."

The little poodle is now being evaluated by a veterinarian for Love for Paws Rescue in Spring Branch, where it will be available for adoption when it has recovered, according to the group's spokeswoman.

The dog recuperating from its sunburn is at Animal Care Services where it also will be up for adoption later.